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From art auctions to selling cookbooks, the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well in classrooms across the country. Using skills needed to run a business, including budgeting, planning, marketing, logistics and sales, grade-school students are building businesses and raising money for local charities. Photos and program descriptions courtesy of The Learning Partnership.

Bliss Carman Middle School

Bliss Carman Middle School - Fredericton, N.B.

Amplifying Awareness

Teacher: Mrs. Lingley 
Business Partners: Alexandre Morote, BMO and Mike Thorne, Flexiway

Amplifying Awareness designed and created a locally manufactured wooden amplifier to sell called the EnviroAmp.  It was originally designed to work with iPhone and iPod but it also works with a Blackberry and other smartphones. The amplifier is environmentally-friendly and portable.

Students focused all of their efforts on Amplifying Awareness for their chosen charity, Dots NB, a mental health non-profit organization that focuses on children and adolescents.

Students identified their strengths and selected one sub-committee to focus on, allowing for greater collaboration. Our group asked for advice from business partners, technology mentors, administration, local parent entrepreneur and their charity ensuring full understanding.

They used social media, including a Wordpress site and Twitter account to raise awareness. They continually updated the website with pictures and blogged their progress. Twitter allowed them a following and an information base for customers, enabling them to buy EnviroAmps.

CBC television attended and filmed one of their meetings, interviewing students, the teacher and the business partner. The interview was featured on CBC local television on April 17th, 2013. 

Garden Creek Elementary School

Garden Creek Elementary School - Fredericton, N.B.

Creeker Chairs for Charity 

Teacher: Suzanne Gallant
Business partner: Ruth and Arnold Acton, Premium Paint Limited

The team consisted of 26 students in Mrs. Gallant’s Grade 5 class and their business partner Premium Paint, along with their charity of choice Stan Cassidy Kids Foundation.  In creating the one of a kind, hand painted chairs, the students reached out to family, community and thrift stores to find the chairs that best fit their personalities. They had to marry their designs and colours to fit their chair’s character.  Since the chairs were to be auctioned off individually, the students had to do their best product ever.

The students reached out to businesses for advice on paint products, colours and the proper procedure from sanding to varnishing, With the assistance of the charity snf their affiliate, the students were able to maximize the sale of their product though their communication network, their clientele and the Board of Directors.  Many community members donated the chairs to further the students’ cause.

Prior to Auction Night, the students were invited to visit their charity and see how the venture could impact the lives of the “Stan Cassidy kids”.  The exhilaration from this visit, the media coverage and their heightened personal spirit carried over to make the evening a magical event.  The venture was not only available to those attending but, through online bidding, outside community members were able to participate.

Le Marchant St. Thomas Elementary School

Le Marchant St. Thomas Elementary School - Halifax, N.S.

Backpacks For the Homeless / Recipes From Around the World

Before becoming a part of the Entrepreneurial Adventure program, the class had already been brainstorming ideas and ways to get involved in helping their community for the year, based on the Grade 6 Social Studies curriculum covering Global Citizenship. The students decided they wanted to help the homeless in Halifax.

When brainstorming ways to do that, the idea for making backpacks containing ‘care packages’ came up.  The class unanimously supported this idea, which became a natural fit for Entrepreneurial Adventure program.  This is where the idea of producing and selling a class cookbook came up.

The cookbook became a social studies project, where each student was already researching the culture of different countries from around the world, so they added recipes into their research.  The students compiled all of the recipes they gathered into one cookbook and called it “Recipes From Around the World”.  All profits received from these cookbooks went straight to our fund for the ‘Backpacks for the Homeless’.

The students learned about, from each other, all the different global cultures they researched for their cookbook.  They learned from their business partner, Cale Wadden, all about entrepreneurialism and what an entrepreneur actually does.  They also learned about the reality of hard work, research, the level of risk involved, and the highs and lows that all entrepreneurs encounter with their many ventures.  They learned how to set goals in terms of cookbook sales, and most were able to meet or come close to meeting their personal goals.

Guy Brown Public Elementary School

Guy Brown Public Elementary School - Hamilton, Ont.

On With the Show

Teacher: Bert Neale
Business partner: Max Rutherford, MJR Systems

The students in Mr. Neale’s Grade 6 class at Guy Brown Public Elementary School can already add ‘entrepreneur’ to their resume. The 23 students became part of The Learning    Partnership’s Entrepreneurial Adventure in December, which partnered them up with a member of the local business community to take part in an entrepreneurial venture. 

After brainstorming about 50 ideas, including events or products, the students managed to narrow the list down to three ideas then put it to a vote. In the end, the art show came out victorious.

“The reason for their decision was to get the community involved,” said Bert Neale, the class’s teacher. “They liked the idea of having a live and silent auction.”  The class chose to support two charities: Kiva and CityKidz. Before deciding on the two charities, the students did online research, such as reviewing different charities on charity-rating websites.

The students were very keen on the marketing of the event. Many students, on their own initiative, created and printed business cards and posters on their own time at home.  They saw the value in promoting the event and tried to keep it fresh.  As the event approaches the class hoped to build the excitement about the art show even more.  The promoting of the event provided many students an opportunity to take a leading role within small groups, and build confidence in themselves and their ability to speak to others, both peers and members of the community.

Being actively involved with the process of organizing and running an event such as the art show, the students have gained an understanding of what it is like to run a business (successfully) and have developed and gained real life entrepreneurial experience.

Holy Redeemer Catholic School

Holy Redeemer Catholic School - Ottawa, Ont.

Cooking With the Class

Their venture was a cookbook containing over 250 recipes collected from Ottawa-based restaurateurs, politicians, news anchors, radio personalities, students and parents, and other individuals involved in the project.

The students did not want to create just another cookbook. They wanted to create a cookbook that stood out from the rest, didn’t already exist, and would attract attention.  The unique value in the cookbook is the number of local celebrities, such as the Prime Minister of Canada, the Premier of Ontario, or an Olympic gold medalist contributing their favourite recipes.

Students designed and created an original cover, an Ottawa Friend logo to make each famous recipe contributor stand out, created their own food related comic strips to feature in the book, as well as culinary jokes to make the cookbook more representative of them.

They created a lovely introductory letter for the front of the cookbook thanking the purchaser, educating them of the cause, and letting them know what was in store as they perused and cooked with the book. They also worked hard to generate advertisements and sponsorships for their venture.

The venture expected to generate revenue from the sales of printed copies of the cookbook; and additionally from sales of advertising spots inside the cookbook to local businesses.

The students chose Shepherds of Good Hope because of a guest speaker who had come to the school in the fall from that organization. The students learned of how Shepherds does so much, for so many, with so little. They realized this organization for the homeless and needy is a rather needy organization itself. They immediately wanted to help.

Being children, almost all of them had visited the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario at some point already in their lives. They decided they also wanted to help this foundation    in order to support something close to their hearts, other children.  

St. Richard Catholic School

St. Richard Catholic School - Toronto, Ont.

Teacher: Lesley Alvares
Business partner: John Dickie, Apple Canada and Kaneff Golf

The students planned, developed and created a recycling venture with a focus on turning old items into new treasures that could be sold to raise money for their charity, ShareLife. This venture was selected as a tribute to the culture of the school, which had achieved a gold status as an eco-school.

Students took on various roles within the company.  Some wrote business letters to local stores seeking donations and delivered them personally to the managers. The marketing and promotion committee created a catchy presentation, involving a cheer, a short talk and a visual demonstration of items that would be sold at the event.

The operation and production committee worked to create a display of products, which were showcased during classroom presentation.  The event planning committee created a timeline of activities and ensured the business remained aligned with its goals and focus.

Students learned many skills and concepts that will remain with them for a long while.  They learned that planning is key to success, public speaking skills count, confidence and enthusiasm are needed to sell, teamwork and working efficiently are necessary to make a profit, appreciation of the work involved to get the business going, and having fun and liking what you are doing are important in your future career.

Blessed Trinity Catholic School

Blessed Trinity Catholic School - Toronto, Ont.

Kids Helping Kids

Teacher: Mr. Fietta and Ms. G. Osborne
Business partner: Sophie Jardine, BMO Financial Group

The Grade 5/6 class at Blessed Trinity Catholic School used the Entrepreneurial Adventure program to create a business venture called “Kids Helping Kids”. This was a fundraising venture to raise $800 for Sick Kids Hospital through various activities and events at their school.

Activities included a “Lucky Dip”, where students had a chance at dipping their hands into mystery bags, filled with many different prizes to win.  A raffle was also held, with tickets sold to students for a chance at great prizes including gift cards, toys, and a grand prize package of a scooter and an iPod Touch.  Other activities involved a scavenger hunt and house league school spirit events. The class also ran a mini convenience store with freezies, popcorn, juice boxes, and sour keys to sell to their fellow students during school hours.

Start-up funds to run each activity were raised through donations from students, parents and teachers. To spread the word of their venture, the class created posters and ran broadcast announcements in school.

The class surpassed their goal and raised a total of $881.93 for Sick Kids Hospital.

Sprucecourt Public School

Sprucecourt Public School - Toronto, ON

Shirt Frenzy By The Creative 26

Teacher: Carol Ball
Business Partner: Mary Chong, Revelo Bikes, IBM Retiree

To promote financial literacy, the Grade 5 students at Sprucecourt Public School decided to create frenzy at their school – “Shirt Frenzy” that is – and sell as much t-shirts as possible to deliver the important message to “Be Money Wise”, while raised funds for ArtHeart – a local Regent Park organization that provides art lessons and meals to students and their parents with the community.

With the help of their teacher, Carol Ball, and local business mentor, Mary Chong of Revelo Bikes, the students – who named themselves the Creative 26 – created the slogan, “Be Money Wise”, and designed a brand logo to include on their professionally printed t-shirt products to sell to their school community.  Start-up funds to purchase their new t-shirt products were generated by students writing persuasive letters to local businesses asking for donations.

Innovative brainstorming ideas for creating awareness about their venture came through during the planning process, including social media and crowd funding.  However, the students quickly learned the importance of assessing the risks of their ideas and eventually created visual displays, signage, and sales stations within the school to account for school rules and student safety.

The Creative 26 were successful in their venture and raised over $1500.00 for ArtHeart.

By taking responsibility for various roles (i.e., sales, marketing, finance, production, and project management) the students learned, first-hand, key entrepreneurial business skills including brainstorming, goal setting, team work and partnership, as well as the relevance and application of math, writing, and art.

Glenbow Elementary School

Glenbow Elementary School - Cochrane, Alta.

Warrior Paint: A Culture of Caring

Teachers: Colleen Heschel-Ball, Sherri Rinkel-Mackay
Business Partners: Christie Saunders, BMO Financial Group and Cindy Overland, Iyahrhe Nakoda of Food Bank Society

In First Nations’ traditions, warriors are often defined as men or women who embody the characteristics of bravery, leadership, peacemaking and generosity. Warriors, in this way, are often those who care for others in a community.

Warrior Paint is an initiative of Grade 1-4 First Nations and Metis students from Glenbow School. As part of a First Nations and Metis art study, the students created group paintings incorporating historical photographs of their ancestors.

The entire venture was completed in a special cultural school program called Roots and Wings. The students (ages 5- 10 years) in this program meet for an hour and a half, once a week.

The goal of this venture was for students to learn how to create a business plan, learn marketing techniques, and foster self-esteem while planting seeds for their future endeavors.  Students achieved this by researching images of their ancestors, which they used to create paintings to inspire their home community.

With guidance from Christie Saunders from BMO, the students were mentored in creating a business plan and marketing strategies for selling greeting cards, which were created from these paintings. All proceeds of the sale of these cards will benefit the Iyahrhe Nakoda Food Bank Society.